News / Asia

China Tightens Media Controls After Tiananmen Crash

A man works on a security camera that was installed at Tiananmen Square in Beijing, November 1, 2013. China's domestic security chief believes a fatal vehicle crash in Beijing's Tiananmen Square in which five died was planned by a Uighur separatist group,
A man works on a security camera that was installed at Tiananmen Square in Beijing, November 1, 2013. China's domestic security chief believes a fatal vehicle crash in Beijing's Tiananmen Square in which five died was planned by a Uighur separatist group,
There are still many questions surrounding what happened in China’s capital last week, when a family of three plowed into a crowd of tourists and set their car on fire, killing themselves. China says the incident, which killed two and injured 40, was clearly a premeditated terrorist attack by members of an ethnic minority group from Xinjiang. But authorities insist the act is not linked to the country’s policies in the remote and restive region and are denouncing those who suggest otherwise.
 
It has been a week since a Uighur family, a husband, wife and mother, from China’s Xinjiang region drove into the country’s political heart of Tiananmen Square. And yet, little is known about those involved.
 
Chinese authorities say a network of other individuals from Xinjiang helped carry out what they say was a premeditated terrorist attack. The say fuel, knives and banners with extremist slogans were found in the car.
 
Hong Lei, spokesman for China’s Foreign Ministry, said the incident was an attack against China's society.
 
He said, "We oppose to the adoption of a double standard in this issue. Some people link the attack with Chinese policy and even blame Chinese policy for the attack. We express strong dissatisfaction with that."
 
Hong's remarks were in response to a recent report by CNN that has enraged some in China. The report asked: “Tiananmen Crash: Terrorism or a Cry of Desperation?” China’s official Global Times called the report “way out of line.”
 
The Chinese government says it has brought opportunity and development to the mineral rich region of Xinjiang. But minorities there such as the Uighurs complain about oppressive controls on religion and culture.
 
In the wake of the Tiananmen incident, media outlets in China have been instructed to not publish anything other than official Xinhua reports. On China’s Twitter-like Weibo service, typically a vibrant forum for discussion, postings on Tiananmen are being censored almost as quickly as they are published. Even a release on state broadcaster CCTV’s English microblog, which had new details about the attack, was later removed.
 
Authorities have also been pressuring prominent Uighurs in the capital over the past few days.
 
Ilham Tohti, a Uighur economist based in Beijing, says authorities are threatening analysts like himself who dare to criticize Beijing's heavy-handed policies in Xinjiang.
 
Tohti says that on Saturday, plain-clothes police rammed his car and threatened him for speaking with news media.
 
He said, “They snatched my wife's phone, and also my phone. And they downloaded some material on the phone. In the midst they threatened me, they said they would kill me, that they would run my family over. And this was because I had said too many things to the media.”

Tohti says that while Uighurs are starting to talk more about social problems and their awareness is growing, the climate is still stifling.

“More and more people agree with what I am saying, but many do not dare [to re-Tweet me or show public appreciation] because free speech and expression of opinion, especially in Xinjiang, is very dangerous. I can understand them,” he said.

He says he continues to speak out, despite the threats, because he is determined to share his views.

Security analyst Rafeallo Pantucci says the Chinese government's response highlights its broader concern of preventing the individual grievances of groups of people from coalescing into a unified vision.

“When you are dealing with an individual who is angry at the system and expresses themselves in these ways, well that is an individual and he has his specific kind of grievances, if these grievances start to fuse into a bigger vision, a vision that says that we are an oppressed people, that we are living in an occupied country and we need to resist well then you are dealing with an issue that is trying to strike at the question of control and legitimacy of authority,” he said.

Acts of violence are not uncommon in China and many times they involve grievances with local officials or government policies. China spends more on internal defense that it does on its military.

Earlier this year, a man in southern China lit a bus on fire to vent his anger, killing 47 people, including himself.

But unlike the authorities' tight control over the Tiananmen story, in that case local government and state-media revealed thorough details about who the man was just hours after the incident occurred, including a suicide note he left behind. A week after the deadly incident in Tiananmen square, there remain many unanswered questions.

You May Like

UN Ambassador Power Highlights Plight of Women Prisoners

She launches the 'Free the 20' campaign, aimed at profiling women being deprived of their freedom around the world More

Satellite Launch Sparks Spectacular Light Show

A slight delay in a satellite launch lit up the Florida sky early this morning More

Fleeing IS Killings in Syria, Family Reaches Bavaria

Exhausted, scared and under-nourished, Khalil and Maha's tale mirrors those of thousands of refugees from war-torn countries who have left their homes in the hopes of finding a better life More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Wangchuk from: NYC
November 08, 2013 10:08 AM
When it comes to Uighurs & Tibetans, the CCP labels every protest, even peaceful ones, as either terrorism or separatism. The CCP also heavily censors & controls the news of protests by Tibetans & Uighurs to control the narrative of the story. But when Han Chinese engage in actual terrorism, like the guy who set off a bomb in Beijing Aiport to the guy who set a bus on fire killing 46 people, the CCP explain that as ordinary crimes or personal grievances & allow more news about it.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs